August 14, 2017 at 4:58 pm PST | by Karen Ocamb
LATEST: Defense Sec. Mattis confirms trans ban on hold

Defense Sec. James Mattis just confirmed that the ban against any military srrvice by transgender individuals, ordered by President Trump via Twitter in late July, is effectively on hold, as the Los Angeles Blade has been reporting.

The confirmation came via Twitter late Monday afternoon from AFP Pentagon correspondent Thomas Watkins:

UPDATE via Washington Post:

The Washington Post has more information on Mattis’ news conference at the Pentagon.

Mattis said transgender service is still being studied, including unit morale. Asked if currently serving trans servicemembers will be forced out, the secretary noted the statement by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued on July 27, a day after Trump’s announcement.

In a letter to military service chiefs, Dunford wrote that the current policy would not change until the White House sent the Defense Department new rules and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines, according to the New York Times. “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” Dunford wrote.

“The chairman immediately went out and said immediately, ‘Everyone stand fast until we get the direction,’” Mattis told reporters Monday. “I understand that this is probably more about your suspicion about what could be coming, but the fact is, we have received no direction that would indicate any harm to anybody right now.”

The Post also reported that “Mattis declined to say whether transgender service members who have outed themselves will be allowed to, at minimum, complete their military contracts.” He also questioned the Pentagon-commissioned Rand Study that the Obama administration used as guidance in lifting the trans service ban in July 2016 that found there was little impact on operations.

“I’m going to wait, again, until I get the direction from the White House, and then we will study it and come up with what the policy should be,” Mattis said. “But I’m not willing to sign up for the [Rand Corp.] numbers you just used [regarding active duty servicemembers], and I’m not willing to sign up for the concern any of them have, considering what the chairman said. And I’m not willing to prejudge what the study will now bring out.”

Prior to Trump’s tweets, Mattis had already called for a six months delay to study the impact on “the readiness and lethality of the force.”

Mattis also noted “the lack, at the time, of political appointees overseeing personnel issues at the Pentagon,” the Post reported. “He said he wanted to ‘get them in to be able to answer those questions’ that arose among senior military officials.”

Mattis did not respond when asked why Trump announced the ban on Twitter. “You all elected — the American people elected — the commander in chief,” Mattis said of Trump. “They didn’t elect me. So the commander in chief in our country, in our system of government, is elected by the people, and he has that authority and responsibility.”

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